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R. Kelly sentenced to one more year in prison for child pornography

R. Kelly appearing in court in Chicago in Sept. 2019, alongside his attorney Steven Greenberg (L).
Antonio Perez
/
Pool/Getty Images
R. Kelly appearing in court in Chicago in Sept. 2019, alongside his attorney Steven Greenberg (L).

Editor's note: This report includes allegations of sexual and physical abuse.

Disgraced former R&B star R. Kelly was sentenced Thursday in Chicago to one more year in federal prison atop the current 30 years he is serving on a separate federal sentence in New York. The additional year stems from a verdict made last September in an Illinois federal courtroom, in which he was found guilty of making child pornography with three victims, including his 14-year-old godchild, "Jane."

Kelly's lead defense attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, had asked U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber for a 10-year sentence to be served concurrently with the New York sentence. As Bill Cosby's attorney, Bonjean successfully had the comedian's sexual assault conviction overturned in 2021.

As it stands, the 56-year-old Kelly is currently expected to serve his sentence until he is in his late 80s. According to CBS Chicago, Leinenweber sentenced Kelly on Thursday to 240 months total, but 228 of those months are to be served concurrently with his New York federal sentence — meaning that he will serve only one more year on the Illinois federal charges.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, which was in the courtroom and is part of Chicago Public Media, an attorney for "Jane" read a statement from her that said: "Robert shattered me. I need closure. And I need Robert in jail for as long as the law will allow."

Last week, prosecutors had asked for Kelly to be sentenced to 25 years in prison on the Illinois federal conviction — to be served only after the conclusion of his current 30-year prison term in New York on separate racketeering and sex trafficking convictions.

Some of the charges in the Illinois federal trial were related to a 2008 child pornography trial in Chicago, in which Kelly was infamously acquitted. "Jane" and her family had refused to cooperate in that case.

In last year's trial in Illinois, the jury found Kelly innocent of seven other charges, including that the singer had obstructed justice in the 2008 child pornography trial or that he had enticed two other accusers, who were identified as "Tracy" and "Brittany" in court, into sex crimes.

Last month, Kim Foxx, the state's attorney for Cook County, Ill., dropped her office's separate sexual abuse charges against Kelly, saying that the former star will likely serve "extensive sentences" in prison already. Nevertheless, Kelly still faces separate criminal charges in Minnesota for soliciting a minor in 2001.

Edited by: Ciera Crawford

Produced by: Anastasia Tsioulcas

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.